The owners of several Western Mass. car dealerships agreed to pay $175,000 to settle allegations that they repeatedly ran bait-and-switch advertisements, according to a news release from Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office.
Carla J. Cosenzi, of Longmeadow, and Thomas Cosenzi, of West Springfield, owners of Country Nissan in Hadley, Country Hyundai in Northampton, Northampton Volkswagen and Patriot Buick GMC in Charlton, allegedly ran deceptive advertising campaigns on television, radio, dealership websites, Facebook and Twitter.
"We allege that these car dealers were luring consumers to their showrooms with misleading advertisements and refused to make good on the advertised sales and promotions," Coakley said in the news release.
An investigation was launched after the Coakley's office received complaints regarding the four car dealerships' advertising and marketing tactics. The dealerships engaged in a pattern of advertising that suggested bait and switch methods by airing advertisements meant to lure consumers into their showrooms with sales and promotions that were not actually available, according to Coakley's office.
Once the customer was in the store, the dealership would refuse to sell vehicles in accordance with advertised terms or conditions. In addition, the company failed to pay the advertised price for trade-in cars or failed to reveal other conditions on the offer, according to Coakley's office.
In a statement to our media partner MassLive, Carla Cosenzi said:
"We always felt that what we were doing was compliant. We were using standard disclosure templates in all of our advertising. When it was pointed out to us that we were not compliant, we pulled all our adds immediately and changed all our advertising moving forward. We are committed to transparency in all of our advertising."
The settlement resolves allegations against the Cosenzi's along with their affiliated companies, Tommy-Car Management Corp., Tommy-Car Corp., Tommy Car Advertising Inc., T & C Auto Corp., Country Hyundai, Inc. and Patriot Buick GMC, Inc.
The settlement required the Cosenzis to pay the Commonwealth $175,000 over a six-month period and to permanently refrain from unfair or deceptive advertising in the future.
The Cosenzi's, who denied the allegations against them, cooperated fully with the Attorney General's investigation.
The matter was handled by the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office.
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